Merkel urges Beijing to resume human rights dialogue, Li Keqiang: Don’t interfere in CCP’s internal affairs

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds video talks with Chinese Communist Party Premier Li Keqiang in Berlin. (April 28, 2021)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged China to resume dialogue on human rights as soon as possible. Merkel made the call during a video call with Chinese Communist Party Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday (April 28).

Merkel and Li co-hosted the 6th round of bilateral government-level consultations on Wednesday. The Sino-German governmental consultation mechanism was established in July 2010 by agreement between Merkel and then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The consultations are held every two years and so far, six rounds have been held. This is the last consultation hosted by Merkel, whose term of office ends this year without a second term.

In her speech, Merkel spoke about human rights in China. She said that there are differences of opinion between the two countries, especially on the issue of Hong Kong. Merkel expressed her hope that the dialogue on human rights between the two countries will be resumed as soon as possible.

The Associated Press reported that according to comments released by Merkel’s office, Merkel referred to Germany’s criticism of China’s human rights record, saying that the two countries “have some differences of opinion, especially when we talk about the situation in Hong Kong.”

Merkel further said that the justice ministers of both countries should join for an in-depth discussion. She said, “So far, we have been trying to resolve these issues very well.”

Merkel said in a statement that the regular consultations are a good tradition and have covered areas of disagreement such as human rights and Hong Kong over the years.

The German-Chinese human rights dialogue mechanism, launched in 1999 by the two countries’ then-chancellors Gerhard Schröder and Zhu Rongji, was originally planned to be held annually, but the 2019 edition failed to take place after China noted a “lack of atmosphere for dialogue.

Bloomberg reported that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang acknowledged in his opening remarks that China and Germany have different views on some issues and urged Berlin to respect Beijing’s core interests, treat them equally and not interfere in China’s internal affairs, according to the Communist Party’s foreign ministry. Li said he hoped the two countries could “eliminate unnecessary interference” in order to maintain “healthy and stable” bilateral relations.

There is no press release on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website about Li Keqiang and Merkel co-chairing the 6th round of government-level consultations. According to the Chinese government’s public website, Li pointed out that under the current situation, it is hoped that the two sides will strengthen cooperation in the fight against epidemics and further facilitate the movement of people under the premise of strict epidemic prevention.

Earlier, Merkel said in her opening remarks that the two countries should “talk openly and transparently about vaccine production. “If possible, also mutual recognition of vaccines,” she said.

Merkel said, “Together we have to contain the epidemic.” “China and Germany can play an important role in this.”